Sox Get Ready For Opener in Japan

Rob Bradford has Tim Wakefield and Clay Buchholz happy to have gone on the trip to Japan, even if they’re not scheduled to pitch in the big league games this week. Amalie Benjamin has the ex-Yomiuri Giant, Hideki Okajima being cheered wildly in his return to his former home stadium. Jeff Goldberg has the Red Sox ready to start the season with the A’s.

Sean McAdam has a preview of the Red Sox as they get set to open the regular season tomorrow morning. (ET) Bill Burt also offers up a season preview for Boston’s favorite nine. Jon Couture says that all the parts are in place, but repeating won’t be easy for the Red Sox.

Dan Shaughnessy has some scenes and observations with the Red Sox in Japan. Michael Silverman says that jet lag is still an issue with the players. Joe McDonald has Josh Beckett proceeding with caution in his rehab. Joe Haggerty has Dice-K and Okajima excited about their return to Japan. Couture says that the Red Sox present a good mix of youth and veterans.

McAdam has J.D. Drew wishing that the regular season had already started. Bradford has Drew swinging a hot bat so far this spring. Bradford also has Jon Lester arriving in Japan, and ready to take his spot as the #2 starter to begin the season.

Silverman reports that 2009 will see a new and improved World Baseball Classic.

Silverman’s notebook has more on Hideki Okajima getting a huge welcome in his return to the Tokyo dome. Benjamin’s notebook has J.D. Drew continuing his hot spring with a grand slam.

Silverman also posted a Web Exclusive feature on Daisuke Matsuzaka’s high school years.

The Boston Herald has their Red Sox preview this morning. With an addition 10 articles in this section, there’s certainly a lot of material in there. We’ll try to get to all of it.

Tony Massarotti looks at whether the 2008 Red Sox will have a better chance of repeating than did the 2005 Red Sox. Michael Silverman takes a look at the Sox at each position and notes whether they have what it takes to make another October run. Steve Buckley says that the Red Sox possess a rock-solid foundation which gives them an excellent shot at repeating.

Jeff Horrigan has a look at the double play combination of Julio Lugo and Dustin Pedroia, the first time the Sox will have had the same combination to start the season in consecutive seasons in the middle of the infield since 1990. Silverman has a piece on newcomer Sean Casey, who is happy with his role as a backup with the World Champs. Bradford writes about how Josh Beckett has become a leader with the Red Sox.

Steve Buckley looks at the meteoric rise to stardom of Jonathan Papelbon. Silverman has a piece on Jacoby Ellsbury, who could be the next Red Sox prospect to shine in the majors. Bradford has J.D. Drew hoping that he’ll settle in and have a big year in his second season with the Red Sox. Horrigan has a look at the supporting cast in the bullpen which is always the key to a good team.

Celtics/Bruins

With the Celtics reminding us of the glory days, I thought it would be fun to compare the 2008 Celtics with the 1986 Celtics and try to see who would come out on top.

Kevin Henkin posts an open letter to the Celtics’ front-runners. Marc J. Spears has a look at Rajon Rondo and his passion outside of basketball…roller skating. Steve Bulpett says that Sam Cassell has already had an impact on the Celtics.

Fluto Shinzawa notes that none of the recent moves made by coach Claude Julien have been able to snap the Bruins out of their slump. Steve Conroy looks at what needs to happen in the next two weeks for the Bruins to make the playoffs.

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